RAMBleed Attack – Flip Bits to Steal Sensitive Data from Computer Memory

RAMBleed Attack – Flip Bits to Steal Sensitive Data from Computer Memory

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rambleed dram attack
A workforce of cybersecurity researchers yesterday revealed particulars of a brand new side-channel assault on dynamic random-access reminiscence (DRAM) that would permit malicious packages put in on a contemporary system to learn delicate reminiscence knowledge from different processes operating on the identical hardware.

Dubbed RAMBleed and recognized as CVE-2019-0174, the brand new assault is predicated on a well known class of DRAM aspect channel assault referred to as Rowhammer, numerous variants [GLitch, RAMpage, ThrowhammerNethammer, Drammer] of which have been demonstrated by researchers in recent times.

Recognized since 2012, Rowhammer bug is a hardware reliability problem that was discovered within the new era of DRAM chips.

It turned out that repeatedly and quickly accessing (hammering) a row of reminiscence may cause bit flips in adjoining rows, i.e., altering their bit values from zero to 1 or vice-versa.


Within the following years, researchers additionally demonstrated profitable exploits to realize privilege escalation on the weak computer systems by flipping (writing) bits within the sufferer's reminiscence.

Found by a workforce of researchers from the College of Michigan, Graz College of Know-how and the College of Adelaide, the brand new RAMBleed additionally depends on the bit-flip mechanism; however as an alternative of writing knowledge within the adjoining rows, this assault permits attackers to learn the knowledge in protected reminiscence belonging to different packages and customers.


"Extra particularly, we present how an unprivileged attacker can exploit the info dependence between Rowhammer induced bit flips and the bits in close by rows to infer these bits, together with values belonging to different processes and the kernel."

"Thus, the first contribution of this work is to point out that Rowhammer is a menace to not solely integrity however to confidentiality as properly."
dram hacking rowhammer rambleed
As proven within the picture, if an attacker needs to learn secret knowledge contained within the "Secret" reminiscence cells, he has to:
  • Discover a flippable bit (Sampling web page) on the similar offset in a reminiscence web page as the key bit.
  • Manipulate the reminiscence format utilizing reminiscence massaging methods to rigorously place the sufferer's secret knowledge within the rows above and under the attacker's reminiscence row, the association as illustrated within the picture, in order that the bit flips within the attacker's rows turns into depending on the values of the sufferer's secret knowledge.
  • Hammer the rows A0 and A2 and induce bit flips on row A1 (Sampling web page), whose preliminary worth has been set to 1, influencing its worth utilizing the sufferer's knowledge in "secret" cells.

"If the bit flipped, the attacker deduces that the worth of the key bit is zero. In any other case, the attacker deduces that the worth is 1," the researchers said in the paper. "Repeating the process with flippable bits at totally different offsets within the web page permits the attacker to get well all the bits of the sufferer's secret."

To exhibit the learn aspect channel method, researchers introduced an assault towards OpenSSH 7.9 operating on a Linux machine and efficiently extracted an RSA-2048 key from the basis degree SSH daemon.

Based on researchers, even ECC (Error Correcting Code) reminiscence protections—which may detect and proper undesirable bit-flips and in addition mitigates many Rowhammer-based assaults—do not forestall RAMBleed assault.

Although each DDR3 and DDR4 are weak to RAMBleed assault, researchers suggested customers to mitigate the danger by upgrading their reminiscence to DDR4 with focused row refresh (TRR) enabled, because it's more durable to take advantage of.


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